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The Living Word

One of the most quoted Bible verses by Christadelphians is 2 Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is breathed out by God”.

It’s a statement which is at the core of why we read, study and meditate on the Bible, which we believe to be the Word of God, revealed to the authors of the books of the Bible through various means, like dreams, angelic visits and ways which we probably can’t understand. The more we study the Bible the more clearly we understand that its source is divine.

Studying the Bible is a joy for many of us but sometimes we’re criticized as a community for being overly intellectual when it comes to the Bible. We emphasize the importance of truth, even nicknaming our community “The Truth” and spend a lot of time studying, preparing and listening to Bible classes. It is a strength of our community that we spend so much time in God’s word, but let’s reflect a little on the charge of intellectualism.

Paul commended Timothy for his Bible knowledge and told him to

“continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings” (v14-15).

We must not disassociate the Bible from the Lord Jesus Christ, but I am afraid sometimes we can do precisely that.So, learning and being acquainted with the Bible is a good thing. Paul goes on to talk about its benefit, first in verse 15 where he says the scriptures “are able to make you wise for salvation”, and then in verses 16-17 where he reminds us that the God-breathed scriptures are “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

However, there’s an extra little phrase I missed out tucked away at the end of verse 15. Paul says the scriptures can make us wise for salvation “through faith in Christ Jesus.” We must not disassociate the Bible from the Lord Jesus Christ, but I am afraid sometimes we can do precisely that. From time to time I hear the presiding brother on a Sunday morning say, “we are gathered around the word of God” and there’s a lot of emphasis placed on the word of exhortation. But really, we’re gathered around the table of our Lord and the emphasis should be on remembering him. It’s a subtle thing but by over emphasizing the Word and deemphasizing the Word made flesh we can lose sight of what brings us together. It’s not the Bible that brings us together, it’s Christ.

The Bible brings a lot of people together in a lot of churches. Bible study is not unique to Christadelphians and, in fact, there are many Evangelical and Catholic scholars out there who are experts at studying the biblical text. There are many church-going folk who are just as interested and committed to reading and studying the Bible as we are. What makes us different is not the fact we read and study the Bible but our understanding of who Christ Jesus is, and our faith in him.

One of the fundamental differences between us and the vast majority of people who call themselves Christian is our understanding of what it means for Christ to be the Word made flesh. Trinitarians take this to mean Jesus was the pre-existent Logos who was incarnated and born as a man. We believe that idea completely misses the point of who Christ is – the Son of God, not God the Son – and the beauty of what it means for him to be the Word made flesh. Jesus is the living embodiment of the Word of God. He took Bible reading, meditation and study to a whole new level by living it out every day of his life. He came to a group of people a lot like Christadelphians. The Jews of the first century were keen Bible students just like us. But they missed the whole point. They intellectualized and ritualized the Bible to such an extreme that its power was nullified.

It’s not the Bible that brings us together, it’s Christ.What makes us wise to salvation is not just being acquainted with the sacred writings but seeing the embodiment of the Word of God in the life of Christ Jesus and having faith to follow his example. It’s a combination of a true understanding of who Christ is with the way in which he didn’t just learn what the Bible says, he lived it.

What should bring us together is Christ. Our exhortations and Bible classes should be a time to reflect on the spirit of Christ throughout the Word of God as an impetus to live as he lived. We listen to so many Bible talks and we’re full of knowledge. But are we full of the spirit of Christ? Is he living in us? Is his example the motivation for what we do each day of our lives? Or are we just happy to sit back, breathe in the inspired Word of God but do nothing about it?

Richard Morgan,
Simi Hills, CA

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